Temple Wrapup/Arkansas Preview

In their first regular season contest of the 2007-2008 season, the Providence Friars gutted out a 66-64 win over Temple in the last six minutes, despite being outplayed for long stretches of the game. In order for Providence to beat Arkansas, a number things are going to need to improve in this quick turnaround contest.

Looking far more comfortable than Providence did until the closing minutes, Temple used a combination of good outside shooting and slashing field goals from their wings to open up significant leads in both halves of the game.

For the Friars, it wasn't turnovers that slowed them (12 on the game), but more a matter of some porous defense in both man to man and zone, along with disjointed offensive execution and spacing, some poor shooting, and a lack of dribble penetration. The Friars were also often caught out of position on defense, particularly when switches were required on picks or cutters coming through the lane toward the baseline.

The reality overall was that Providence as a team was simply not playing very well their first time out. The one bright spot in the first half for Providence was a run late in closing minutes, when the depth of the Friars seemed to wear down Fran Dunphy's Owls, who really only go seven players deep. This would play a key factor in the second half.

The second half saw some more cohesive offensive sets, but the Friars were still taking and missing too many 3 point field goals (7-23) all while continuing to not get the defensive stops they needed. With just under 6 minutes to go and the Friars down 11, Tim Welsh went with what he felt was his most effective defensive team. (McDermott, Xavier, McKenzie, Williams, Kellogg) It was this combination of players that stopped the cutters in the lane, contested shots, and grabbed the necessary rebounds.

Some big shots from Jeff Xavier Geoff McDermott, and Dwain Williams led the comeback, and the tough minded and surprisingly composed play of freshman Alex Kellogg gave the Friars the missing ingredient they needed to overcome the deficit. As bad as things looked for Providence in most of the first 34 minutes, the last six were excellent on both ends of the floor, and Temple fatigue combined with a strong Friar surge forced them into relinquishing the lead and ultimately the game.

Taking on Arkansas

Patrick Beverley had 16 points and 7 rebounds, leading the Arkansas Razorbacks in impressive fashion over the College of Charleston 75-49. Beverly led #18 Arkansas with his scoring and rebounding, and wing man Sonny Weems turned in a big effort as well for the hogs. Weems, who came on in the second half, scored 10 points and hauled in 6 rebounds to help Arkansas pull away. Darian Townes also chipped in 11 points for the Razorbacks. While Arkansas turned the ball over an ugly 25 times, they completely dominated the backboards, outrebounding Bobby Cremins' Cougars by a margin of 53-27.

Keys to beating Arkansas:

1) Take away, but don't giveth. Gary Ervin, Arkansas' nyc point guard, is a quick and flashy player who loves taking it to the basket and making plays. He also has bad history of turning the ball over and at times shows erratic decision making. If Providence can turn over the Hogs and keep their own turnovers under 15, it will go a long way toward evening things between the two teams.

2) Keep it as close as possible on the glass. The Friars are at a rebounding disadvantage in this one, and they weren't all that impressive in this department vs. Temple. It's pretty clear that if you get outrebounded by 20, you're going to lose the game.

3) Key on Beverly and Weems. Patrick Beverly is a stud player and one of the best guards in the SEC. The Friar defense must key on him and not let him go off. Sonny Weems is a former Juco energy player who loves to create havoc in the lane from the small forward position. Keeping Weems out of the lane and away from the offensive glass is critical. Expect to see the Friars show a good amount of zone in this one.

4) Use your depth, get physical. The win over Temple proved that one of PC's best assets is depth. Tim Welsh has to exploit this depth and get very physical with Arkansas in order to keep them out of rhythm. If Providence can use their younger players to press and shore up the defense, it should jump start the transition game.

5) Dribble Penetration. Providence is going to have a tough time scoring on the block in half court sets, so dribble penetration that gets the Arkansas defense out of position and into foul trouble is going to be important. The Friar forwards have to attack the offensive glass for putbacks, and Weyinme Efejuku must bounce back and have a good game, freeing up Jeff Xavier and Dwain Williams for some good looks from the perimeter.

Game Time: 5:30pm EST TV: ESPNU RADIO: 103.7FM WEEI

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